Bell County was still classified as having “severe uncontrolled community transmission” of COVID-19 on Monday as its second shipment of a COVID-19 vaccine was delayed.
These 3,900 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, which were originally anticipated to arrive on Sunday, are now expected for a Tuesday delivery, according to the Bell County Public Health District. The delay will postpone scheduled Tuesday vaccinations at the Killeen Community Center, 2201 E. Veterans Memorial Blvd., and the Sammons Community Center in Temple, 2220 W. Avenue D.
Bell County spokesman James Stafford said the shift in Tuesday’s appointments will delay some individuals’ inoculations till next week.
“This is obviously not how we hope to start our second week of vaccinations,” Bell County Judge David Blackburn said in a statement on Monday. “Since last Wednesday, we have already administered 3,981 shots. At this point, we are only limited by our supply of vaccines.”
Local health officials are strategizing how to prevent any future delays in vaccine shipments, and Health District Director Amanda Robison-Chadwell said the inconsistent shipping times could eliminate Monday as an available vaccination day.
Blackburn apologized for the rollout disruption.
“While we certainly regret this confusion and the inconvenience that it is going to cause people,” Blackburn said. “We are pushing forward, and we remain focused and committed to vaccinating the people of Bell County and beyond.
Until new doses are secured, the health district has blocked its online appointment booking service.
“We have temporarily disabled the booking link on the website rather than leaving it open while appointments are full and vaccines are allocated to those bookings,” the health district said. “Once we receive additional vaccines and are able to open new appointments, we can reactivate the booking link. This will hopefully help those looking to see if there are available appointments make that determination more efficiently.”
Other Bell vaccine providers
Bell County’s 13 other vaccination providers have received 19,500 COVID-19 vaccines to date, including a combined 14,300 doses to Baylor Scott & White, Seton Health and AdventHealth, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Of the near-20,000 doses, 4,845 vaccinations were still available on Monday — about 25 percent.
Although the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System is among the Bell County entities administering COVID-19 vaccinations, it is not included in the DSHS’ accessible list of vaccine providers.
Trauma Service Area L — a region that includes Bell, Milam, Coryell, Lampasas, Hamilton and Mills counties — currently has 228 COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Although the trauma service area was experiencing a daily improvement in its hospitalization rate since Jan. 11, COVID-19 hospitalizations accounted for 20.73 percent of its total hospital capacity on Monday.
Certain Bell County businesses will remain operating at 50 percent capacity until this rate falls below 15 percent for seven-consecutive days, according to an executive order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Testing in Temple, Nolanville
Free COVID-19 testing will be available in Temple and Nolanville this week.
Testing in Temple will operate at Fire Station No. 2, 1710 E. Ave. H, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; at Fire Station No. 7, 8420 W. Adams Ave., from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday; and at Fire Station No. 1, 210 N. Third St., from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 28-29.
Registration is required. Patients can register on site or pre-register online. For information, visit templetx.gov/coronavirus. Results will be available three to five days after testing.
Free COVID-19 testing will be available in Nolanville from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Wednesday this month. Testing will operate from the Central Fire Station located at 84 N. Main St.
Killeen testing mishap
Despite a sign advertising free COVID-19 testing at the Killeen Special Events Center Monday morning, inaccurate dates were reportedly shown — a mishap that had residents in line.
The sign at the Special Events Center said testing was available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday. However, the city announced last week that this week’s testing will operate from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Saturday.
Those who arrived at the Killeen Special Events Center on Monday were not pleased.
“They should coordinate with signage,” said Carmen Clark, a Killeen resident who saw the sign and wanted to get tested on Monday. “Why wouldn’t we believe the sign?”
Registration for testing on Tuesday and Saturday is open now and must be completed in advance at http://honumg.info/KilleenEvents. Participants are required to provide a mobile phone number or email address when registering to receive test results, according to a city of Killeen news release.
Tests will be administered with participants remaining in their vehicles. A nasal swab is collected, and results are available by text message or email within 48 to 72 hours.
Area school districts
Despite students being home for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, area school districts still updated their respective COVID-19 dashboards Monday.
Active cases in the Belton Independent School District saw a slight decline on Monday, as 64 people in the Big Red Community are recovering from COVID-19 — about 0.44 percent of the district’s population.
Lakewood Elementary leads all campuses with 16 active cases. Pirtle Elementary, Sparta Elementary, Tarver Elementary and the Belton Early Childhood School were the only campuses of the 18-school district to not have an active case logged on Friday.
Temple ISD’s seven-day report, which is currently logging infections reported between Jan. 9 and Jan. 15, shows seven cases: three at Bonham Middle School, one at Travis Science Academy, one at Jefferson Elementary, one at Raye-Allen Elementary and one at the Fred W. Edwards Academy.
Salado ISD also saw a decline in active cases despite infections reported over the weekend.
“We have not had any new reported cases of Salado ISD students or employees diagnosed with COVID-19 since … a fourth-grade student at Thomas Arnold Elementary School tested positive (Saturday) and an employee at Thomas Arnold Elementary School tested positive for COVID-19 (Sunday),” Salado ISD Superintendent Michael Novotny said in his daily newsletter.
Salado ISD now has 17 active cases: nine students and eight employees.
Killeen ISD’s cumulative COVID-19 case reached 1,156 on Monday with 78 infections — 44 students and 34 staff — reported in the past week, according to district data.
FME News Service contributed to this report